Stephen William Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge at the time of his death. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.
His scientific works included a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He was a vigorous supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.Hawking achieved commercial success with several works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book A Brief History of Time appeared on the British Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. In 2002, Hawking was ranked number 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.
In 1963, Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neurone disease (MND; also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis "ALS" or Lou Gehrig's disease) that gradually paralysed him over the decades. Even after the loss of his speech, he was still able to communicate through a speech-generating device, initially through use of a hand-held switch, and eventually by using a single cheek muscle. He died on 14 March 2018 at the age of 76, after living with the disease for more than 50 years.
He is also known as Hawking, S. W. Hawking and Stephen William Hawking.
Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England, on 14 March 2018, at the age of 76. His family stated that he "died peacefully". He was eulogised by figures in science, entertainment, politics, and other areas. The Gonville and Caius College flag flew at half-mast and a book of condolences was signed by students and visitors. A tribute was made to Hawking in the closing speech by IPC President Andrew Parsons at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death and died on the 139th anniversary of Einstein's birth. His private funeral took place at 2 pm on the afternoon of 31 March 2018, at Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge. Guests at the funeral included The Theory of Everything actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, and model Lily Cole. In addition, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in Hawking, astronaut Tim Peake, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and physicist Kip Thorne provided readings at the service. Following the cremation, a service of thanksgiving was held at Westminster Abbey on 15 June 2018, after which his ashes were interred in the Abbey's nave, between the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
Inscribed on his memorial stone are the words "Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking 1942–2018" and his most famed equation. He directed, at least fifteen years before his death, that the Bekenstein–Hawking entropy equation be his epitaph. In June 2018, it was announced that Hawking's words, set to music by Greek composer Vangelis, would be beamed into space from a European space agency satellite dish in Spain with the aim of reaching the nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00.